Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ricist insinuations

At some point early in their lives, white kids often become concerned about racism in ways that don't quite get it:
"Who's your friend?"
"You mean Kyle?"
"No, the black kid."
"Shh, Dad, that's racist!"
Eliana Johnson over at the so-called Corner has gotten herself into that kind of difficulty over Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's first National Security Advisor and second Secretary of State, and her treatment by "liberals", as in a Ted Rall cartoon of 2004 in which he depicted crime-fitting punishments for George W. Bush and his enablers after they leave office:

From here, via John
Rice's punishment is that she is forced to learn how to be black, and to use such ghastly expressions as "house nigga". Rall explained it pretty carefully
The broad important point here is that she's an African-American who works for an administration whose policies hurt blacks.
—but it has served conservatives for all these years as an example of how "you guys are the real racists, so nyah nya-nya nyah-nyah!" and now it is back, in the context of the existence of a new African-American female potential secretary of state, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, whose conservative detractors are being accused of showing racial bias: "At least nobody called her a house nigga!"

Johnson argues that C. Rice was the real victim, as in these comments from Democratic senators:
Senator Barbara Boxer charged that Rice “frightened the American people” into supporting the Iraq War; Senator Jim Jeffords accused her of being part of an effort to “distort information” in the service of “political objectives”; and Senator Pat Leahy, who voted in her favor, endorsed her by saying that her tenure as national-security adviser lacked “strong leadership, openness, and sound judgment.”  
Nevertheless, Boxer's and Jeffords's objections are not innuendo but concrete interpretations of historical fact (you can disagree if you want, just bring the evidence), and in any case these criticisms have nothing to do with race—there's no stereotype accusing African-Americans in general of deceptive warmongering or lacking leadership. Contrast what is now being said about S. Rice, as Johnson quotes it:
Senator John McCain described her as “not being very bright,” and stated that, “if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified” to be secretary of state. Senator Lindsey Graham noted, “I don’t trust her,” and that “if she didn’t know better, she shouldn’t be the voice of America.”...
These allegations are purely subjective, snotty, and larded with innuendo; and the innuendo is certainly that she's not one of Us, inadequately evolved, and unrepresentative.

Much more interesting to my mind is the campaign against S. Rice into which poor Dana Milbank has been inveigled, which says she must not become America's chief diplomat because she isn't diplomatic. That is, nobody (nobody in Cokie's beauty saloon? nobody at Sally Quinn's conversazione?) likes her. She is too rough.
when she was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. 
My stars, Mabel, did you ever hear the like? And poor Mr. Holbrooke (aka "the Bulldozer" and "Raging Bull") such a gentleman, too!
Rice was one of the first former Clinton administration officials to defect to Obama’s primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. Rice condemned Clinton’s Iraq and Iran positions, asking for an “explanation of how and why she got those critical judgments wrong.”
And did she get one? Because I'm still wondering myself.
Rice’s put-down of Clinton was tame compared with her portrayal of McCain during 2008, which no doubt contributes to McCain’s hostility toward her today. She mocked McCain’s trip to Iraq (“strolling around the market in a flak jacket”), called his policies “reckless” and said “his tendency is to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s dangerous.”
Ah, now we're getting somewhere.  Milbank's the self-denominated "original McCainiac" after all, suppose he's still in touch with the old duffer? Or is that a racist question?

From Ask Mr. William T. Collins.
And so, to paraphrase Mr. Bennett, an unhappy alternative is before you, Mr. President; Mr. Milbank will never see you again if you nominate Ms. Rice for secretary of state, and I will never see you again if you don't. Just kidding, it's really up to you, but Milbank makes her sound like a little of what you need. And I'll bet old Holbrooke would have backed me up on that.

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